Risk Defense Starts at the Top

October 21, 2019

Chuck Miccolis, managing director of commercial lines at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), says start with the roof to make the most impact on commercial properties.

“The roof system has the greatest exposure and is the first line of defense to significant losses, whether it’s wind, wildfire, winter weather … the roof is going to be your first line of defense,” Miccolis says. “Holistically speaking, for a building to greatly reduce its risk, we start with the roof in our Fortified commercial program, which is a wind focused, resiliency standard.”

Insurance companies want documentation on what’s been done to mitigate losses. “So if the roof is more resilient and it’s well documented and it’s also documented that the design and the installation is done correctly, then insurance companies can look at that risk and understand that risk (better) than if they did not have that information or did not have documentation on how that roof is constructed,” according to Miccolis.

“We start with Fortified roof; that’s our first level,” he said. “So if an existing building wants to increase their resiliency, then install a more resilient type of roof.”

Properties everywhere should consider resiliency. “It’s not just along the coast in hurricane prone areas; this is also throughout the whole country,” he said. “High winds just don’t happen on the coast anymore.”

The quality of the roof installation is almost as critical as the roof design. “Our research has shown that a lot has to do with products being installed properly,” he said. “When they’re not, you can have the best design in the world, but if they’re not installed properly, then they’re not going to perform properly.”

Disaster planning is another important aspect of resiliency.

“Businesses should have plans for the risks that they face in their area,” he said. “Emergency response planning and business continuity planning is very important for large and small businesses.”

Without a plan, businesses run the risk of not returning to full strength post-disaster. They also run the risk of greater losses, Miccolis says.

“So if they protect their physical assets and understand what the risk is, the wind or flooding or winter weather, that’s key,” he said. “Pre-planning should take place instead of trying to respond after the fact because that also affects business interruption.”

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences report, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report, published in 2018, investing in hazard mitigation measures that exceed select building code requirements can save $4 for every $1 spent. The report looked at scenarios that focus on designing new buildings to exceed provisions of the 2015 International Codes (I-Codes), the model building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC).

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